Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Kokoraleis already free to wander back into mind, bringing his horror


Human Head Cake Box Murder, by Weegee
(Metropolitan Museum of Art)
     Violent crime is down, yet we don't feel safer.
     Homicides dropped 15 percent in Chicago in 2017; shootings down too.
     Doesn't help.
     Why? Many reasons. First, our murder rate is still very high — 664 people killed in Chicago last year, more than in New York and Los Angeles combined.
     Second, Chicago has become a punching bag, our crime problem as a presidential punchline.
     Third, the media is more attuned to crime. Racism used to prompt the mainstream press to ignore entire neighborhoods, places it now tries to do a better job of noticing.
     Fourth, crime is so awful it resonates, echoing in ways that have nothing to do with statistics. If there were one shooting in Chicago last year, that would be a lot if the person shot were you. Were there just one murder, the world would still become a tragic and dangerous place for hundreds of friends and loved ones of the victim.
     Lastly, not only do we have this last year's crimes to ruffle our sense of security, but crimes from the past have a way of wandering back to disturb us anew.
     "They're letting Kokoraleis out," I said grimly to my wife over the breakfast table.
    "Who?" she replied. Because she never worked at a newspaper. Never, as I have, filled in for the beat reporter at the Cook County Criminal Court, 26th and California. Never sat in the grubby press room, at a little metal desk. Never idly pulled open a drawer and noticed a manila folder labeled "Kokoraleis." Never flipped the folder open and began to read.



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14 comments:

  1. In addition to the media being "more attuned to crime", is the speed in which the news is delivered. Media has become ubiquitous and annoyingly competitive. Speed often trumps accuracy and, as always, sensational trumps mundane. We've become news addicts and are consumed by our addiction. Can we feel safe? Not if we're paying attention.

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  2. I'm still opposed to capital punishment, but in cases like this, I wouldn't be averse to a "life without parole" sentence that means what it says.

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    1. I agree. Capital punishment is never acceptable.

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    2. I think many prominent jurists, including notably Justice John Paul Stevens, take a more nuanced view, believing that it would be morally defensible if the sentence could be applied fairly. But experience has shown that it can't. Guilty or not, your chance of escaping the needle are greatly enhanced by being white, rich enough to hire good counsel, female, able to bargain with the government, usually by giving up a "bigger fish," etc. I think it was Justice White who observed that the probability of a killer actually being executed was akin to being struck by lightning on a golf course.

      Tom

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  3. When the states attorneys office cut the deal with this POS they had little evidence on which to convict. By flipping this vermin they had a solid capital case. Now that he's getting out maybe he'll get popped again. Parole is a path back to the joint.

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    1. FME--Good point, and it brings up another argument in favor of the death penalty: It's a powerful bargaining chip.

      Although that's a double-edged sword. As we all know, prosecutors make mistakes, and can be stubborn about acknowledging and correcting them. Someone facing death might well be motivated to say whatever the prosecutor wants him to say on the stand, regardless of truth.

      Regarding Kokoraleis, I hope he doesn't "get popped again" for hurting another innocent person. Call me Pollyanna, but maybe he'll live out his life as a peaceful citizen.

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    2. parole has conditions, they include reporting to your parole officer, staying sober, not hanging around with felons etc. if you don't do these simple things , you are subject to serve the balance of your sentence. I don't know but Neil wrote that he was being paroled not that he had completed his sentence. I agree I hope he has been rehabilitated and never hurts anyone ever again.
      I also don't think he should ever have gotten out of prison. if violent people were in prison society would be less dangerous.

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    3. When I think of a "violent person," I think of the lout who wacks you upside the head if you accidentally bump into him in a bar, or knocks you off the bar stool because you spoke to his girlfriend, or the driver who goes insane if you cut him off. Quite possibly Kokoraleis is like that, but his crimes were not momentary passionate outbursts of hostility; they were worse: deliberate acts of sadism, murders for the hell of it, gruesome horrific nastiness bordering on insanity. Nonetheless, I think he deserves a chance to show that he is a human being. Parole boards do not generally sport a reputation of being softies. If they think he can make it outside, that's good enough for me.

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    4. "bordering on insanity"? He was either insane at the time or he's pure evil. If he was insane and hasn't taken his own life yet, he'll relapse. If he's just plain evil he should never be released.

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  4. 1. You can guarantee that he will commit one or more crimes soon after his release.
    2. Odds are very high that someone related to one of his victims, will whack him as revenge for one of his crimes.

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    1. I always thought O.J. Simpsons worst nightmare was Fred Goldman contracting a terminal disease.

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  5. FME, according to the IDOC website, Kokoraleis is to be released on March 29, 2019. It's not parole. His sentence is discharged on that date, so no check-ins required, it would seem.

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    1. Bob. Thanks for the information. Very troubling.

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  6. I don't miss Ted Bundy or John Gacy, they deserved the death penalty or worse. Problem is, we are not perfect, and our experience in Illinois shows that innocence will not keep you off death row. Execution cannot be undone. That is why I oppose it. Yet I am aware of the killers around us, any one of us could have passed one on the street today. Driving a Rosemont taxi in 1977, sitting at the O'hare Inn Ramada late one night a stocky, round headed man exited the hotel and approached the cabstand. He reached through my half opened window to touch me. I grabbed his wrist, shoving his arm away telling him to get lost. Didn't see him again, I think. Because when I saw pictures of Gacy later, I wondered if he was the creep who approached me that night. He lived nearby and local kids were his victims. I was older than his usual but I will never know for sure. I do know this, that day he did interact with other people who KNEW they had encountered a monster in their lives. Better that people like Kokoraleis never go free. In her book "The Wars of the Roses" Alison Weir describes conspirators against Henry IV being roasted in chains over a slow burning fire, which doesn't seem extreme for Bundy, Gacy or Kokoraleis. But a life in solitary confinement with limited entertainments could be a harder punishment for killers like Speck and Manson, still leaving an option for us to say "Oops".

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